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Trainer Q&A - Under Saddle 101 (The first 30 days) - How do I teach my horse to pay attention and pick up his feet while riding?

How do I teach my horse to pay attention and pick up his feet while riding?

Linda Asks:

Whenever I am riding my horse he tends to stumble a fair bit. He seems to take lazy steps and does not pick up his feet. This is probably not very safe and I would like some pointers on how to encourage my horse to pick up his feet.

Thanks very much


Our Trainer Answers:

First, make sure that your horse is tuned into you. Ask him to do some manuvers under saddle before you take off riding. For instance, have him move his hindquarters over, yield his forehand, back up and sidepass for you. Move him around a bit, ask him to walk and trot some figure eights. Now that he is awake and tuned in, lay down some poles and ride him over them at the walk. You can also lay down a tarp, or old carpet and ask him to walk over that. What we are trying to accomplish is teaching him to look where he is going so he will pick his feet up of his own accord. If we always look for him, he will never learn to pay attention for himself. After trying these excercises at home, take your horse out for a ride. If he loses focus of you, go back to asking him for a few manuevers to get his attention back on the task at hand. This should cure his stumble footed-ness.

Thank You and Happy Trails,

Christy Mellington